I’ve given it quite a lot of thought in recent days and have come to the conclusion that I am definitely not a “control freak”.
Believe me, that discovery left me feeling quite relieved, because I have to admit that the possibility had crossed my mind.
When I stopped and thought about what would constitute someone being classified in this way, I basically decided that it would be anyone with an unhealthily obsessive need to dominate every situation for their own plans and purposes.
Although, when you come to think of it, is there really such a thing as a “healthily” obsessive need for domination?
Somehow I don’t think so; but that’s beside the point.
So what on earth would cause relatively easy going, peace loving me, to even consider the possibility that I may have a controlling nature?
Well, there are actually two answers to that question.
The first is Kylie and the second is Matthew!
It’s nothing they’ve said or even given the vaguest indication of thinking, and yet, these two teenage children of mine are most definitely the triggers that have given me cause to reflect.
You see as a parent, the minute that precious little bundle of baby comes into the world, you immediately and without a second thought, take charge. It’s not a domination thing or a desire to lord it over our offspring, but rather a very simple matter of ensuring their survival.
Now I will concede that a newborn baby does tend to make their demands quite vociferously known and may even have moments of making his or her parents dance to the tune they’ve chosen to play. However, the infant shouldn’t actually be able to demand and receive anything other than what is actually acceptable for a child their age. They have needs and we, as parents, will do whatever is required to provide for those needs.
As time goes by and the child grows, our level of control will change. This requires us to be flexible and able to begin releasing our hold in different ways. I actually remember thinking for many years that I would probably still be walking Kylie to the bus stop each day, even when she was 21 and out in the work force. Of course, that way of thinking was simply because I couldn’t really imagine my little girl ever becoming an independent and mature young woman – at least, not when she was only 10 years old.
When that day finally did arrive and I actually let Kylie and Matt make their own way down the road, around the corner and across the busy street to the bus stop, it was unquestionably a landmark moment. It not only marked the first noticeable step in the process of my letting go, but also their first step on the not so long road toward adulthood.
Since then, every new experience has brought with it that combination of excitement at seeing Kylie and Matthew develop in leaps and bounds, together with that slight, but very real, qualm which comes when our “babies” are out from under our very protective wings. Perhaps no greater example of this is when a newly licensed 17-year-old first takes the family car out without a supervising driver along for the ride.
I speak from experience!
However, as I stop and think back over the last few years, I can see that for the most part, Steve and I have been able to release our children without too much anxiety.  Perhaps this is mainly because “letting go” doesn’t mean that we simply swing open the door and say, “There you go kiddo! The world’s your oyster and we’re just going to sit back and see whether you can grab the pearl or get caught in the process of trying!”
Every minute of our children’s lives up until the moment that they cross the great divide between adolescence and adulthood, is a training ground, and we, as parents, are the drill sergeants (albeit very loving ones).
The lessons and wisdom that our children take with them will have largely come from years of our guidance and correction. There may have been many times when we’ve actually felt as though everything we’ve said and done has fallen on deaf ears. Yet, when we see our sons and daughters living out the lessons they’ve gained from our input, every “head banging against a brick wall” moment is paid for in full!
So having said all that, why then would these two precious teenagers cause me even a moments concern regarding my possible need for control over their lives?
Believe it or not, it comes from that inexplicable, often overwhelming, maternal love that I have for them both. It comes from the desire of my heart to see these two young people become everything that God created them to be and to have great fulfilment and happiness in every area of their lives.
The only problem is that as they leave childhood days behind them and begin to consider the future, with all its unknown vagaries, they still may seek my advice and wisdom, but the difference is that they no longer always have to take it.
The protective, sheltering Mother longs to see her children shielded from the storms of life. She “chooses” security over risk and may try to steer her fledglings down the paths of least resistance. The two areas that I find myself most likely to fall into this trap are regarding choice of career and relationships – the two areas that ultimately must be their own decisions.
Once again, when I feel those first stirrings of “interference” rising up (which mustn’t be confused with Godly parental direction), I have to remind myself that when it comes to lifetime decisions and matters of the heart, Mother doesn’t always know best. To be completely honest, I have to admit that Kylie’s decisions have actually proven this point more than a few times in recent months. In fact, there have been a couple of occasions when my “safe” suggestions would have actually been completely wrong, no matter how right they may have seemed to me at the time.
Even so, when it comes right down to it, thankfully I’m able to say that I don’t press them to the point where my will almost becomes the equivalent of law for their lives. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth, thus my relieved conclusion that I am not a “control freak”.
But, and this is where it gets just a little uncomfortable, where I stop short of doing this with my children, I can’t say that I’m not guilty of trying the same thing with God.
Although I pray for His will to be done in every situation and circumstance, there are occasions when I have to be honest and say that I do everything but jump through hoops to try and bend His will to fit my hopes and desires.
Without any real conscious thought of what I’m actually doing, I may try to “up the ante” and somehow earn His “favourable” response to my request by praying with greater passion and fervency, while quoting hopefully appropriate Scriptures and fasting.
Now of course, all these things are a totally acceptable and vital part of every Christian’s prayer life. However, when we do such things, we have to make sure that we’re doing them out of a heart of obedience and surrender to the ultimate will of God, and not just in the hope of manipulating Him into giving us the answer we think we want or deserve.
As if we really could!
The Apostle Paul showed us the futility of ever trying to twist Almighty God around our little finger, when he wrote:
Our loving Heavenly Father does want to give good things to His children, but that doesn’t mean always giving us everything we want. He knows our needs and as our most perfect Parent, will always do whatever is required to provide for those needs.
Letting go of control can be a scary thing, but when you really understand the complete sovereignty of the One to whom you’re surrendering, the fear is replaced by His peace and joy.
So who’s the boss?
Well, when it comes to Kylie and Matthew, Steve and I certainly do still hold the reins to a large extent; although we are releasing our grip a little more with every passing day.
But when it comes to God, I have no option but to toss aside the “reins” and hand over control to the One whose will and ways are beyond human comprehension, but will always be for our very best.
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